Paradise Lost Book 9: Line 13-19 - Summary

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      Milton’s theme is the Fall of Man. It is a sad task, to dilate on it, because it bears on Man’s incidence to sin, suffering and death. But it is a nobler and superior theme, better fitted for epic treatment than the squabbles among men and gods mandated in the well-known classical epics of Homer and Virgil.

      The subject of Homer’s 'Iliad' is the wrath of Achilles and his slaying of Hector who had killed Achilles’ friend Patroclus. Hector was so awe-struck by the avenging fury of Achilles that he ran thrice around Troy before picking up enough courage to fight his pursuer and die gloriously. The subject of Virgil’s Aeneid is the wrath of Juno, Queen of the Heavens, on Aeneas, the son of venus or, as she was also called Cytherea, and the principal episode of the poem is the fight between Aeneas and Tunius over Lavinia who had been promised separately in marriage to each of them. The next allusion is to the wrath of Neptune the sea-god, who caused great suffering to king Odysseus during his journey homeward after the victory of the Greeks in Troy, which is the subject of Homer’s Odysseus. Homer and Virgil were taken up exclusively by human or divine wrath and its unseemly consequences. Milton will choose a different theme, sad though it might be. The pity of man’s subjection to sin and his fortitude in bearing its consequences are more truly tragic and heroic than the pomp and circumstances of classical epics.

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